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Abstract This article examines Directive 2004/25/EC on Takeover Bids through a regulatory lens in order to determine its effectiveness as a regulatory mechanism. A central regulatory problem for European legislators is to determine the optimal balance between harmonisation and diversity, and the directive reflects the balance which was struck. The article questions whether the resulting ‘light regulatory touch’ may have jeopardised the existing efficient self-regulatory regime which operates in the UK (the largest European takeover market), while simultaneously undermining the directive's goal of facilitating takeovers and yielding a level playing field.